Reviews of the Jewelled Carriageway
â€œOccasionally Sergeant Buzfuz get accused of being folk but it would be more accurate to describe their mixture of sleepy melody and witty lyricisms as â€˜popâ€™ if that label wasnâ€™t already taken. This is clever stuff but, despite the presence of acoustic guitars and violins, itâ€™s also very tuneful and undeniably modernâ€ (Trevor Baker, Rock Sound)
Reviews of Fire Horse CD Album (2004)
"A-TEN-SHUN! Sergeant Buzfuz parades his talent on his new album, Fire Horse.
Buzfuz, aka Joe Murphy, follows his debut, Obsessive Compulsion Pour Homme, with another selection of songs touched with his lyrical genius.
Like Damon Gough and Jarvis Cocker he's got a knack for romanticising the mundane.
The lovely organic and acoustic sound of Fire Horse may be homely but it's a dysfunctional domesticity that often dominates. There's a poignancy underpinning simple songs like Don't Drink Yourself To Sleep where Murphy sings "you're the life and the soul of every party you left behind" and "you drink for your nightmares, you drink for your lust" before a finale of "you've got to learn to love yourself/before you can let someone else."
This isn't just lo-fi bedroom noodling, there's a real depth to the music too. The uplifting Obedience features organ, mandolin and accordion and on Scratch A Lover there's a busking vibe that bleeds with a heartfelt honesty that's so utterly compelling.
Buzfuz runs a monthly Blang! night at London's 12 Bar that's featured an alternative array of artists including The Broken Family Band and Chris T-T. It's a vibrant scene reminiscent of the early days of Postcard Records and Buzfuz do recall the bittersweet beauty of The Go-Betweens on the outstanding Ghost.
It's an unpretentious sound with a lyrical and musical depth that will gently lap around your head. Fighting it is futile; just join-up with Sergeant Buzfuz - you're in his army now. ESSEX CHRONICLE 19/3/04
"Somewhere between the points defined by the eclectic folk eccentricity of the Incredible String Band and John Cooper Clark's stream of punk poet consciousness" BURTON MAIL 24/4/04
"You probably haven't heard of Sergeant Buzfuz but, on the strength of this album, you would be well advised to track him down.
Part of the UK's alternative folk/country scene (see also The Broken Family Band, The Folk Orchestra and Chris T-T), Sergeant Buzfuz is actually Joe Murphy, a Sheffield musician and wry lyricist who lives in London.
Fire Horse is a rich, passionate record that brings to mind Leonard Cohen in a snug bar or a more loveable Chumbawamba. Murphy's raspy vocals also conjure up the spirit of Strummer and many of these songs could be off some alternative Sandinista!
Highlights include the hypnotic dulcimer-hammered Ghost and the folktronica of See-Through, which explodes into a fitting finale. THE WEST BRITON 25/3/04
"a classmate of the likes of Morrisey and Jarvis Cocker"
WARWICKSHIRE + WORCESTERSHIRE HERALD OBSERVER SERIES 11/3/04
"WEIRD SOD, TOP RECORD.
Warm music making palatable and accessible a skewed and screwed lyrical feast. It is a fact that REM would kill, hopefully each other, for songs like these. If you need proof that a Gibson & a stack of Marshals isnâ€™t a prerequisite to produce ferocious tracks you need this album and a listen to â€œScratch A Loverâ€ or â€œCactusâ€ will pin your ears back. See Joe Murphy is a bright boy and he has a weird & winning way with words, but heâ€™s undeniably a nasty bit of work. â€œFire Horseâ€ is simply a collection of excellent songs and if thereâ€™s a better reason for buying a record and listening to it, I donâ€™t know what it is." UNPEELED fanzine (April 04)
"Fire Horse manages to pull some cracking melodies out of the hat, especially on the gently crafted 'Untitled # 2' or the lulling repetition of 'Ghost'...Fire Horse is impossible to dislike, brimming with eloquent sentiment and a fistful of tunes' ROCK SOUND (April 04)
"Rich in originality, with lyrics that are vivid and at times very funny. Complimented by an eccentric five-piece band that plays instruments ranging from the maraccas to the hammered dulcimer, Sergeant Buzfuz's sound, as you may have guessed, verges on the adventurous. But don't be fooled by this seemingly quirky band, their music can befriend the most reserved listener. This is because some of the material in Fire Horse rests in an intimate human reality, both endearing and thought provoking. 4/5. BUZZ (South Wales Culture)
"It's a misleading choice of name, to say the least. Charles DickensÂ¹s Sergeant Buzfuz was a pompous, bullying lawyer who
conducted cross-examination with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. But this incarnation (the alias of a loose collective revolving around Sheffield-born Joe Murphy ) weave their twisted little vignettes out of the most basic materials with rare elegance and delicacy. Cynical outsiders a little lost in the big bad world, theyÂ¹d be right at home swapping their tales of urban alienation with Badly Drawn Boy and Chris T-T over a bottle of cheap red in their east London bedsit. They share those acts' magpie mentality and fondness for folk, building a series of off-kilter arrangements from an eclectic array of instruments including banjo, mandolin, accordion and that 17th-century favourite the hammered dulcimer. This, their second album, is quintessentially British music that fits right in the long line running from the Kinks through the Smiths and on into Blur, bookish romantics always ready to conceal a breaking heart with a biting wit.
If anything, theyÂ¹re a little too quirky and understated for their own good. Though there are flashes of brilliance in the dulcimer-led Ghost and jittery, hypnotic closer See-Through, they donÂ¹t yet have the knack of dashing off epics of quiet desperation that come so easily to those other bands. But theyÂ¹re mining a promising seam of isolation and disillusionment: more
Miss Havisham than Sergeant Buzfuz. LetÂ¹s hope that the great expectations arenÂ¹t unjustified." James Eagle, MORNING STAR (March 04)
"When Joe Murphy - Buzfuz - croons "Leather and chain worn around snowflake and lace" on the cracked orchestral acoustica of 'Shimmers Like Gold', he sums up his crafted wine-fly artistry more eloquently than any cliche-ropey, frameful, blameful prose could ever hope to achieve. Nicking the string arrangements left over from Let It Be Naked, this is a tarnished gem. Buy it." THE FLY (March '04)
"Sergeant Buzfuz's latest offering, Fire Horse, is not easy to pin down. On first listening many comparisons come to mind, each of them as utterly inconsistent as the last. Teardrop Explodes? Undoubtedly. Crowded House? There is a certain Neil Finn elemant to Murphy's croaking tone. Bright Eyes? The twisted folk element is engrained in every track on the album. The list goes on and on; but the longer it gets, the more difficult it becomes to nail down Sergeant Buzfuz. Maybe it's the subject matter. Murphy's compositions tend to sway between the sentimental, lovelorn folk traditions in one moment, and the more vicseral, bilious planes of bitter revenge in the next.
All in all it makes for unpredictable and sometimes uneasy listening. The musicianship is undoubtedly raw with basic instrumentation and some unsteady, discordant moments that lie just on the wrong side of 'experimental' and can be distracting. But it's not hard to see the promise in this band. Murphy is obviously unafraid of trying something new and the veins of originality which run through Fire Horse are easy to see and rich for mining."
FLUX magazine (#41, March/April 04)
"Joe Murphy, once hailed as â€œa one man Teardrop Explodesâ€, is the man behind Londonâ€™s 12 Bar Clubâ€™s monthly â€˜Blang!â€™ nights, a kind of anti-antifolk happening that has brought many of NYCâ€™s Sidewalk CafÃ© regulars to the capital; heâ€™s also curating a Blang! event at Tate Britain in March, presumably populated with the work of the misfits he works with, and who he pays tribute to in his own work.
For this second Sergeant Buzfuz outing Murphy runs with an expanded band comprising whoever can make it on the night, running through material that sounds like the result of extended pilfering from Bob Dylan, Robyn Hitchcock and Marc Bolan. Curiously, it sounds like heâ€™s dragged all three into the studio with him as well, making this both a curio and a joy." 4 STARS LOGO magazine (March 04)
Reviews of 'Obsessive Compulsion Pour Homme' CD Album (2001)
" a selection of quirky and heartfelt songsâ€¦.a nice line in charming melodies, simply marvellous"
THE LIST, feb 2001
" Like another Yorkshire boy exiled to London, Sergeant Buzfuz, aka Joe Murphy, has got a way with words. The reverse romance ofÂ "Don't spray Chanel on your arms and neck / plastic lilies will be all you'll get'' from "Public Enemy # 1" could be straight out of the Jarvis Cocker songbook. Musically, too, there are similarities with early Pulp in the low-rent organ sounds and lo-fi indie production. But, if anything, Murphy has an even sharper sense of humour and the likes of the Hefner-esque "Bite Your Lip" show he's got the tunes to go with it."
Trevor Baker, www.bol.com, March 2001
Reviews for 'Plugged In' 7" single (2000)
" Debut single from London-based newcomer - plaintive vocals, weird sound effects and acoustic guitar combine to create a sound not unlike the Kinks being produced by Badly Drawn Boy"
frOntÂ feb 2000
"Some incisive lyrical content here. 'Put your hands together now/Cool Brittania is a mad cow', that benefits from the song's laid-back acoustic groove. Shades of Steve Harley and Julian Cope are present and, like those two, Mr Buzfuz could well be a social commentator to watch out for."
Record Collector # 247, March 2000
"The Sergeant, a Sheffield emigre resident in Hackney named Joe Murphy, comes on like a one-man Teardrop Explodes."
SELECT magazine's Dirty Dozen, March 2000
"Who is Sergeant Buzfuz and what army does he represent? We know not. The only artefact of his existence that we have ever encountered is this seven-inch circle of sound featuring three quietly thrilling musical gems. The warped pop of "Cool Brittania' is rambling, ephemeral and literate in a manner reminiscent of Robyn Hitchcock; 'Jesus Loves You When You're Naked' comes on like a comedy cross between Dylan, Hefner and George Harrison; 'Plugged In' somehow manages to bridge all of the above while also incorporating a Theremin. Eccentric and lo-fi, and oddly touching. Here's hoping there's more where this came from." April LongÂ Â NMEÂ 29 JanuaryÂ 2000
Live Previews and Reviews
" Sergeant Buzfuz's twitchy alienation transcends the theatreland setting."
Martin Horsfield, NME 17 nov 2001
" Sgt Buzfuz was next in line and to my relief played his guitar with no apologies accompanied by the spooky roughness of girl on a zither, the sound was almost oriental punk with strange 'Banshee' flavours. His riffs were solid and songs such as 'She got the words punk rock/ runnin' thru her like a stick of rock' had me smilin' and reminiscing over a time I had not shared first hand. I love acoustic/punk guitar playin, I have never been a session head guitar freak, and thank fuck, he never played one solo. Sgt Buzfuz has a lot to say about things. His observations on 'what the fuck we're all doing here' left a Billy Bragg/Jarvis Cocker/Ian Dury kind of impression. His song, Untitled 1, was a real beauty song with a drawling chorus of 'I could swim into you if you wanted me to', and in between songs you couldn't help but notice this wasn't no bitter phoney bandwagon jumper from the East End, and I thought about the myth that punks don't careâ€¦.Sgt Buzfuz does."
www.trakmarx.comÂ Â Â issue 4, june 2002 (review of April Blang! at 12 Bar)
" Arrive early at the Blang! club for host Buzfuz's jaw-dropping lyrical outlook."
METRO LIFEÂ Dec 2002